Eligibility expanded for business recovery grants

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MONTPELIER — The state has expanded eligibility for Economic Recovery Grants for businesses hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic. As of Monday, any business with at least one W-2 employee — including the owner — is eligible to apply. Previously, a business had to have at least one W-2 employee who was not the owner.

"Businesses of all sizes are doing everything they can to survive under the difficult circumstances caused by this pandemic, and it's our responsibility to step up and support them in the recovery," Gov. Phil Scott said in a statement. "We are hopeful these new requirements will provide some additional relief as we continue to rebuild together and emerge from this crisis stronger than before."

Matt Harrington, executive director of the Southwestern Vermont Chamber of Commerce, said the change would open the grant program up to sole proprietors and start-up businesses, which he estimated make up about 10 percent of the county's approximately 3,200 businesses.

"We're happy the state has decided to continue to open the funds even more. Our businesses badly need it," Harrington said.

More than $78 million has already been awarded to Vermont businesses but there are still funds available. Businesses are encouraged to apply if they have experienced losses of at least 50 percent in the month of July 2020 (compared to July 2019) and have not already received a grant. Businesses that may not have been eligible earlier in the year are encouraged to re-evaluate their losses for the month of July as they may now be eligible.

"We know that some business types weren't able to apply out of the gate and we hope this will help more of those businesses access these critical funds," said Lindsay Kurrle, secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. "Even with this expansion of the program we know sole proprietors without a W-2 employee will still be in need of assistance and we will work with the Legislature to develop solutions upon their return."

Businesses that chose not to apply, or already applied and were deemed ineligible and believe they may be eligible under these new criteria, are encouraged to contact the Department of Taxes at 802-828-6611 or ACCD at 802-828-1200 to learn more. Those who have not yet submitted an application are encouraged to do so and can learn more at accd.vermont.gov/covid-19/economic-recovery-grants.

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